What is STEM?

STEM is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. This term regularly features in education policies, curriculum choices, skill sets, employment and workforce strategy. The acronym rose to limelight after a meeting on science education held at the US National Science Foundation. It later gained momentum when then President Barack Obama stressed the need for STEM education for United States of America to maintain its global leadership.

How is it different?

STEM is not just an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics but an acronym for integration between all these subjects. It addresses the concern that these disciplines are often taught in isolation while the fact is that they are all intertwined. It is a cohesive inter-disciplinary approach based on hands-on learning. In today’s world, it is impossible to dissimilate these fields from one another.  Pick any item from your household or office and try to fit it in just any one of the STEM subjects. You will find it impossible to do so, for everything is integrated with each other. Science and Math lead to technology development, which in then integrated with engineering to make it useful in our life.

STEM encourages students to experiment, make mistakes and learn from them to reach correct outcomes, rather than relying on what the textbook says. Critical thinking, logical analysis, inquiry and project based learning are the keystones in STEM education. The premise of STEM education is to inculcate curiosity and help children think like a scientist, who questions and tries to find answers by experimenting, observing, recording and analyzing data. There is a paradigm shift from traditional education, which vitally lacks in hands-on learning, to a learning, which is much better and deep through hands-on experience.

STEM Education Vs. Conventional Education

A key flaw with isolated learning is that often students are unable to apply the concepts learned to actual problems, lowering their productivity or understandability and hence implementation. Problem-solving is a major skill set and our current education system does not address it.

Why our children’s future depend on it?

Technology and Innovation are transforming the economy and we are amid the Fourth Industrial Revolution “The Technological Revolution”. Going forward, we will witness increased use of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, which will reshape business models across sectors and geographies. According to Manpower Group, one of the largest job companies, developments in technology will cause greater automation, lower the headcount or slow growth in hiring in some areas while creating massive number of jobs in other fields.

What we are going to witness is a change in the skill set requirement. That means if we continue to rely on conventional education system, as many as two-thirds of children entering primary school today will not have the required skills to get a job, by the time they leave education. From IBM Watson replacing attorneys at New York law firms to diagnosing diseases, STEM has evolved as the key area where new jobs have emerged and will continue to do so at a faster rate.

 

  • According to Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) 75% of fast-growing occupations require  STEM skills.
  • Employment in STEM occupations grew by 10.5%, or 817,260 jobs, between May 2009 and May 2015, compared with 5.2% net growth in non-STEM occupations, as per the U.S. Bureau of Statistics.
  • According to the US Department of Commerce, in past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was three times as fast as growth in non-STEM jobs.
  • STEM occupations are projected to grow by 17.0 percent from 2008 to 2018, compared to 9.8% growth for non-STEM occupations.
  • STEM workers command higher wages, earning average 26% more than their non- STEM counterparts.
  • STEM workers are also less likely to experience joblessness than their non-STEM counterparts.

 

Source: United States Department of Education

  • The above data is compelling. The world of work is going through a transition. For our future generations to prosper and grow, we need to embrace this change and equip them with right knowledge and skills. The knowledge and skills that STEM can provide.
  • Curious Caterpillars works diligently to fill this gap by making learning hands-on. With our approach, we shape the learning philosophy. We make critical thinking, logical analysis a part of the learning process and a habit in children. And, the earlier we start the better as it is during the early years that the brain wires itself.